Advent with Schall

Ken Masugi's latest interview with the good Padre, on the occasion of the publication of his 32nd book, The Modern Age. Naturally I like this, since I am in love with Spe Salvi.

KM: You maintain that "The modern age is characterized by the claim that man can propose his own final end, can decide the content of his own happiness." No doubt, in a manner he can do this, but is what he defines worth having?
JVS: Your question—"Is it worth having?"—in its own way, brings out the central theme of this book. Indeed, this "Is it worth having?" theme is why Benedict XVI's encyclical, Spe Salvi, is so fundamental for understanding the nature of political philosophy. We have had intimations all along from Nietzsche to Bury to Voegelin that the modern world is not nearly as "secular" in inspiration as it pretends to be. Rather it is an effort to accomplish the lofty goals that were found in the revelational tradition by means other than suggested there. Without this elevated background, our political ideologies and enthusiasms would simply never have happened.
Skipping a little, there's this interesting relation of B16 to Strauss:
 Quiet like Benedict, Strauss sees that the ends of everlasting life in happiness are proposed in Christian revelation. Their achievement requires grace. But their accomplishment is not to be found in this world. Yet, when faith is gone, these elevated ends remain demanding a "practical" response. The optimism of progress or utopianism ultimately comes from this forgotten grace's original addendum, as it were, to nature. Christianity in this sense has not been rejected. It has been relocated with a motivating force no longer dependent on faith, prayer, and good works. It depends rather on the technical/biological transformation of man and polity so that such ends are now produced in this world by man himself, by his "science." This is, as you put it, "an assertion of divinity."
Not looking good for Christianity at present, but in the end I have to think Christmas has to triumph over Carbon Credits and the War on Childhood Obesity for just the sheer boredom of the latter things. There's simply no beauty in the modern project, no awe.

There's a lot more of value in the interview, go read it all.